WHAT POSTNATAL WOMAN ARE YOU?
You have just achieved one of mankind’s most incredible acts – childbirth – and no doubt you feel like it. Every women’s labor is different and therefore the effects on each individuals body will greatly vary, but the emphasis on being kind to yourself and letting your body heal is the same.

Please don’t rush your recovery!

Take time to enjoy your baby and marvel at the little creature you have just brought into this world!

YOUR POSTNATAL CONDITION AND THE APPROPRIATE WORKOUT GUIDELINES.

Outlined below are suggested activities - depending on your condition - for weeks 1-6 before your doctor clears you for exercise;

1. No complications 

This by no way means that it has not been a crazy ride but over-all the labor went well and you had no complications.

Recommendations

  • Wear spanx – you need to encourage the tissues back to the midline, help with the compression and realignment of the organs and it acts as your TVA whilst this is recovering from labor and gestation.
  • Use a breast feeding pillow – My breast friends is fantastic and my pick for feeding cushions - https://www.mybrestfriend.com/
  • Stretch – Everything is tight!! Legs, Glutes, Neck, Pecs, Pelvic Floor, Feet
  • Lie on a foam roller – At the end of the day, before you crash into bed –lie with the foam roller down your spine and your arms stretching out to the side. This helps your spine relax and fall back into it’s natural curves and aids in stretching out the front line of the body which grows ever tighter due to the many hours of breast feeding, child carrying, rocking and staring at the gorgeous thing you have made!
  • Deep Tissue Massage – If you can, take an hour away from your baby and get a deep tissue massage. Due the postural changes of pregnancy many muscles are locked long or short as too the connective tissue around these and a deep tissue massage will help start the release process. It would be amazing if you can make this a regular thing in the first weeks and months, but with small pockets of time for yourself this is not always the case, but is highly recommended.
  • Sitting up straight with good posture – this is 100% an exercise postnatally and if you try to conscientiously finds this position as much as possible you will be activating your core with out even knowing it!

WHAT TO DO

  • Core exercise focus - 10/15min daily
  • Weeks – 1-4 - Begin seated core Fundamental exercises – TVA and PFM activation. Weeks – 5-6 - 2 Week core challenge
  • Walking - walk, walk, walk - good for baby and good for you.
  • Spinal mobilization - articulating and mobilizing the spine to ensure stiffness and tension is not created or maintained
  • Lower&Upper-body strengthening - begin to include some exercises that focus on the postural muscles of the body and strengthening the legs and glutes to help stabilize and support the pelvis

2. Grade 4-5 tearing or episiotomy 

This means there has been extensive damage to the pelvic floor system of muscles and these will need special attention and care.

Recommendations

  • Immediately following be sure to follow the nursing advice when it comes to bathing and ice packs. This is actually a good time to start to think about these muscles and trying to activate them - Care and repair at the same time.
  • Find a good postnatal physical therapist close to you and go them to see about how to treat the scar tissue that has been created and repair these crucial muscles. If you are not able to – Isa Herrara is New York based PT specializing in postnatal care and she has written a wonderful book that can help guide you in self care - http://www.endingfemalepain.com/ending-female-pain-author.shtml
  • Wear spanx – you need to encourage the tissues back to the midline, help with the compression and realignment of the organs and it acts as your TVA whilst this is recovering from labor and gestation.
  • Use a breast-feeding pillow – The breast friend is fantastic.
  • Stretch – Everything is tight!! Legs, Glutes, Neck, Pecs, Pelvic Floor, Feet
  • Lie on a foam roller – At the end of the day, before you crash into bed –lie with the foam roller down your spine and your arms stretching out to the side. This helps your spine relax and fall back into it’s natural curves and aids in stretching out the front line of the body which grows ever tighter due to the many hours of breast feeding, child carrying, rocking and staring at the gorgeous thing you have made!
  • Deep Tissue Massage – If you can, take an hour away from your baby and get a deep tissue massage. Due the postural changes of pregnancy many muscles are locked long or short as too the connective tissue around these and a deep tissue massage will help start the release process. It would be amazing if you can make this a regular thing in the first weeks and months, but with small pockets of time for yourself this is not always the case, but is highly recommended.
  • Sitting up straight with good posture – this is 100% an exercise postnatally and if you try to consciously find this position as much as possible you will be activating your core with out even knowing it!

WHAT TO DO

  • Core exercise focus - 10/15mins daily
  • Weeks – 1-4 - Begin seated core Fundamental exercises – TVA and PFM activation. (PFM will need special attention due to the trauma suffered during labor so double up on exercises)
  • Weeks – 5-6 - 2 Week core challenge
  • Walking - walk, walk, walk - good for baby and good for you.
  • Spinal mobilization - articulating and mobilizing the spine to ensure stiffness and tension is not created or maintained
  • Lower&Upper-body strengthening - begin to include some exercises that focus on the postural muscles of the body and strengthening the legs and glutes to help stabilize and support the pelvis

3. C-section 

This is major abdominal surgery and involves the cutting of many layers of connective tissue, the uterus and the deliberate stretching of core muscles. The process creates scar tissue below and above skin level.

Recommendations

  • Gentle exercise is beneficial after a C-section as it increases blood flow to the area to speed up healing and decrease scarring.
  • Walk around the hospital even though you don’t feel like it!
  • Often after a C-section there is a lot of fluid retention – a qualified reflexologist can really help bring this under control. If this is not available – elevating your legs and stretching the lower limbs can aid in the reduction of fluid retention.
  • Wear spanx ALL THE TIME! – The process of the surgery requires the pulling apart of your TVA creating a large diastasis. You need to encourage the tissues back to the midline, help with the compression and realignment of the organs and it acts as your TVA whilst this is recovering from labor, gestation and surgery.
  • Use a breast-feeding pillow – The breast friend is fantastic.
  • Avoid stretching the scar as it heals
  • Lie on a foam roller – At the end of the day, before you crash into bed –lie with the foam roller down your spine and your arms stretching out to the side. This helps your spine relax and fall back into it’s natural curves and aids in stretching out the front line of the body which grows ever tighter due to the many hours of breast feeding, child carrying, rocking and staring at the gorgeous thing you have made!
  • Deep Tissue Massage (avoiding the scar and skin around it while you heal) – If you can, take an hour away from your baby and get a deep tissue massage. Due the postural changes of pregnancy many muscles are locked long or short as too the connective tissue around these and a deep tissue massage will help start the release process. It would be amazing if you can make this a regular thing in the first weeks and months, but with small pockets of time for yourself this is not always the case, but is highly recommended.
  • Sitting up straight with good posture – this is 100% an exercise postnatally and if you try to consciously find this position as much as possible you will be activating your core with out even knowing it!

WHAT TO DO

  • Core exercise focus - 10/15mins daily
  • Weeks – 1-6 - Begin seated core Fundamental exercises – TVA and PFM activation. 
  • Weeks – 7-8 - 2 Week core challenge (only if your scar has healed and you feel ready - if not repeat week 3-4)
  • What else?
  • Walking - walk, walk, walk - good for baby and good for you.
  • Spinal mobilization - articulating and mobilizing the spine to ensure stiffness and tension is not created or maintained
  • Lower&Upper-body strengthening - begin to include some exercises that focus on the postural muscles of the body and strengthening the legs and glutes to help stabilize and support the pelvis
  • Stretching – with particular focus on the Pelvic Floor. The muscles did not lock long from the trauma of a vaginal birth, resulting in the need to be made supple before strengthening can occur, but the body did not go through the full movements of natural birth that open the pelvic outlet, so the pelvic floor may be locked short.
  • Scar massage – This is very important. Once the scar has healed (around 6 weeks) and your doctor has cleared you – begin performing a daily figure 8 massage to stop the creation of scar tissue. Mobilization of the scar is With your forefinger and middle finger rub with cream in every direction, (figure 8) moving the scar around. I recommend Egyptian magic cream as it has connective tissue healing qualities.


Link to the After Birth – postnatal exercise program (Week 1-8 immediately following childbirth)